You can also listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE via iTunes.
Guy: For this week’s podcast episode, we decided to record it in audio only, as our guest lives in a remote part of Australia and we didn’t want to take the chance with internet quality. By doing this we are able to deliver great audio clarity without any dropouts.
Eat well, Live Well. It’s that simple - Rohan Anderson
Our fantastic guest today is Rohan Anderson. A few years ago he created Whole Larder Love which began as an online journal, documenting the story of a life change.
A significant life change for a regular person embedded in western society.
Rohan had a metamorphosis driven by a desire to alter his food and lifestyle choices. At the beginning, he was very unhealthy. Obesity, food allergy, anxiety, depression and hyper-tension where all part of daily reality (most of which he was medicated for).
His health concerns, a growing understanding of his environmental impact and the responsibility of being a parent, where catalysts nudging him to make deliberate change.
Today’s podcast is all about change. How we truly do have the power within us to change if we truly want it, and how the small changes can make a huge difference over time in our lives and others. Be inspired and enjoy!
In This Episode:
- How he overcame obesity, hypertension, anxiety, depression
- Making the switch from corporate world to rural life
- Why he had to go through a great deal of pain before making huge changes
- Why building his log cabin has been the most rewarding thing he has ever done :)
- Rohan’s favourite & most influential books:
- Western Novels by Louis L’Amour
- The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo M. Pellegrini
- And much much more…
Get More Of Rohan Anderson:
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that everyone’s journey when it comes to health, food and nutrition and exercise it’s almost like a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum I guess you could say you’ve got people that have never made the food-health connection before. Don’t really look at what they’re eating, if they’re eating processed carbohydrates, if it’s affecting their gut health and all sorts of things going on.
Actually for them literally it’s not buying some fast food and eating a bowl of edge instead. It could be a major challenge and then at the other end of the spectrum you got people that have been making tremendous amount of change over the years and forever evolving and learning. The one thing I’ve come to conclusion is to always keep a beginners mind and I try and have that approach when it comes to health nutrition and pretty much anything in life.
I only say these things because today’s guest, who I think is absolutely awesome, just a wonderful human being is Rohan Anderson. It’s safe to say he shares his journey today, which is being that full spectrum. He was that guy who was earning lots of money, corporate world, but very unhappy. He was clinically diagnosed obese. He said he had food allergies, anxiety, depression, hypertension. They were all parts of the daily reality and most of them which were medicated for as well. He just simply wasn’t happy.
Over the years he’s been evolving and making changes up to this point now where we have him on the podcast [00:02:00] today. He’s releasing a second health book which is called ‘A Year of Practiculture’. My copy is in the mail as I write this, because I’m very excited to get it because it’s full of stories and even recipes from a year of living a self-reliant lifestyle.
From going to being that guy, obese corporate to now becoming a self-sufficient person. Which that’s growing, hunting forage and healthy sustainable foods off the land. We are actually opted to record this podcast in audio only and not the usual video as well, because he’s in a very remote part of Victoria. We just wanted to make sure the sound quality was top notch.
In his own words as well he said, you could scream until he was blue in the face when he was that guy back when he was obese. He had to find the changes for himself. I know I can certainly relate that on my own journey when I think of certain family and friends. No matter what I say or do I don’t really change.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you can just lead by example. When people are ready to change they’ll make the change and start asking you questions and so forth. Obviously you can direct them then to podcasts like this. The one thing I have been finding helpful you might have heard me say on a couple of a few podcasts ago that we actually did a survey and we designed a quiz around that on people’s number 1 problems. Generally it’s normally revolving around weight loss. We look at these things from a very physical aspect and then as we start to change we then look deeper into it and then we really start to embrace the health changes.
If you are struggling with trying to get people over the line to make them look at their diet a little bit or their health, this is actually a great place to start. You [00:04:00] could send them back to 180nutrition.com and 180nutrition.com.au and there will be a button there saying, “Take the quiz” and that’s a great place to start. That’s designed for somebody that really hasn’t started their health journey yet. There’s a good video and there’s actually a really good introductory offer to help support people that want to make the change for the first time.
If you’re struggling and telling yourselves, you can use that to tell them for you. Take the quiz back at 180nutrition.com and .com.au. Anyway let’s go over to Rohan. This is a really fantastic podcast. Enjoy!
Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.
Stuart: Hello mate.
Guy: Our awesome guest today is Rohan Anderson. Rohan, welcome to the show.
Rohan: Nice. Thanks for having me.
Guy: Just to put our listeners into the picture mate. We all met at the Primal Living talk last year in Tasmania, which I think now is over a year ago, so wow, time really flies.
I remember watching your talk mate and just absolutely being blown away by it and with your message, the story, the humor, the heartfelt-ness from it and it was absolutely fantastic. Believe it or not I’ve gone on and done a couple of talks since. I always take inspiration from that day Rohan. We’re very honoured to have you on the show today and looking forward to getting a little bit to know more about you and share with our listeners. It’s greatly appreciated mate.
Rohan: All right.
Guy: To start the show Rohan, would you mind just sharing a little bit about your story and the life changes you’ve made before you got on to a whole lot of love, just to give people a bit of a background.
Rohan: Yeah. It’s probably quite familiar to a lot of people. Middle class Australian working my ass off trying to earn as much money as possible to pay off [00:06:00] mortgages and car loans and credit cards. I ended up working about 6 days a week in a couple of different jobs and focusing on values in life that I thought were important. What took a back seat was the things that are important, which are family, health, experiences.
My body was a reflection of the way my life was. At that point in time I was morbidly obese. I had a whole range of different health issues and fairly common health issues that a lot of Australians have. I had hypertension, anxiety, depression, I had food allergies. Like I said before, I was disgustingly obese. I can say that, I was an absolute fatty.
What happened was there was a couple of different catalysts that made me look at my life, evaluate it and say, “I need to make some …” I realized I need to make some changes.
I think having kids and the realization that I was feeding my kids the same shit food that I was eating, gave me a large amount of guilt. That hitched out at me to want to make changes in what I was feeding my kids and then I was asking myself “Well, I want to feed my kids healthy foods and I should be feeding myself healthy foods.”
Then I started to do some trial journey of moving away from foods like chicken nuggets and takeaway foods and urban fries and moving into looking at cooking with whole foods, really, really basic stuff. Looking at cook books to begin with and actually cooking with ingredients as opposed to opening up a jar of tomato sauce and pouring over some pasta.
Then eventually [00:08:00] I took extra steps and started looking for organic produce, chemical free produce, local produce and in turn the more local the product the more seasoned it is, the more [inaudible 00:08:12].
Then from there I took an even one more further step and I started growing most of my own food. For my meat I became a hunter.
Guy: How long ago was this Rohan?
Rohan: I really don’t know. It’s been such a long journey now. I would say it’s probably … I do know I started writing a whole lot about 2009. I had previous to that attempted to integrate some of these stuff into my life, especially the growing of the vegetables. It was in the back of my mind, it was more of a hobby. I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. Although even though I do take it seriously there’s quite a lot of farming.
Stuart: What was it Rohan that led you to explore that avenue as opposed to doing what most people would do in the modern world. They’d join perhaps Jenny Craig and go to the doctors and get some pills.
Rohan: I did both of those things. This is why it’s important to share my story, because I’m the same as everybody else, I just found a different solution for me. Everybody’s solution is going to be different. Initially I was about to take a flight to London many, many years ago. I went to my doctor and I said, “Look. Can I get some Valium? Because I’m not a very good [inaudible 00:09:43] my first long whole flight and sometimes I get a bit of anxiety.” He said, “Tell me more.”
He sat me down. It was like going to see a shrink. By the end of the session I was folding my eyes telling, basically admitting that I’ve been having these attacks for pretty much [00:10:00] in my entire adult life. He diagnosed me with anxiety and depression and I had all these tiredness issues and I was manic at times and all those sorts of things.
Straight away I was diagnosed with some symptoms and then I was medicated for. The same happened for hypertension with my very high blood pressure. You’ve got hypertension, you need to take these tablets.
That was my first step. Now that I look back at it, I think that’s great because what happened there was the medication gave me the ability to get some level ground and to find some peace and some consistency in my daily routine. Because prior to being medicated I was about to go nuts.
The other thing that I would mention as well is my wife convinced me to go Weight Watchers. I went to Weight Watchers and that was a great experience. It was very similar to an experience I had going to Alcoholic Anonymous.
The system that those guys have it’s so technical, it focuses on counting all these calories and grams and fats and bits of sugar. The amazing thing was that they told me. I said, “You should have a can of baked beans for breakfast.” Here I am having baked beans in newsletter. I was only [inaudible 00:11:20] sugar.
The point I’m trying to make is that the health profession is very, very quick to jump on the medication band wagon. I think there’s some value in that but there also should be value in looking at addressing the reasons why us western humans are in such a shit state in the first place.
Maybe to address, “Okay. Why did I work 6 days a week and want to earn so much money to buy stuff that I didn’t need?” Well, that’s because that’s what a middle class [00:12:00] western society expectations are. That’s the value that we put on ourselves and that’s the pressure that we put on ourselves.
Our health reflects that. We all work really hard and one could build [inaudible 00:12:11] everyone has got loans and credit cards and it’s so easy to get credit. Everyone is under pressure. All that pressure puts us and our health under pressure. Then we want these quick fixes to fix our health as opposed to addressing what we really need to do, which is a little bit of exercise and also eating real foods.
I heard the other day that the bestselling cook book at the moment is a green smoothie cook book. The problem with that is it’s the quick fix rubbish.
Stuart: It is.
Rohan: It’s constant. All those new different diet pads and different healthy miracle, I call it the Choo berry, which the fictitious miracle Guatemalan berry that you can cook with it. You can have it for breakfast. You can roast it. It does all these things. It’s everyone’s [inaudible 00:13:07] but the reality is all we need to do is go back in the past and look at what people would have been eating for thousands of years, which is plant matter, animal matter, a combination of the 2.
As far as processed foods go, people have been eating cheeses and breads, even culture is built on bread. It gets so brutalized bread, but human culture has lived on it for thousands of years. In some shape, way and form even the Guatemalan people, the local aboriginal people around here had often clouds of [inaudible 00:13:44] grass being bashed down with rocks to make little butter.
The reality is that’s plant butter, it is growing, it’s a seed. The same thing for all the stuff, the water [inaudible 00:13:56] any of those [00:14:00] bush foods. Our bodies have been designed to survive on plant and animal matter, not highly processed rubbish.
Guy: Rohan, something just occurred. Do you think you had to go through that pain and suffering to get to that point to make the changes? I see that in people around me as well, that I get a little bit frustrated with, but I can’t help or say anything because they’re on their journey.
Rohan: Exactly. I have just started a process of writing another book at the moment out of that exact frustration of being an advocate for making the social change in food and lifestyle for many years. I have this matrix movie moment where I came out of being connected to the system and I was a free thinking individual, as a free agent. I realized I could identify these are the problems we’ve been having in society with our food and our lifestyle.
Then everywhere I go, whether it be driving down the street or walking through a shopping center or something like that. I can see all these people and I’m absolutely frustrated. I just want to walk up to everyone and say, “Don’t you know what you’re doing to your body and do you know what you’re doing to the environment? You could be living this way. It’s fantastic.”
Having those situations and trying to communicate to everyone whether it be talks or workshops or demonstrations or whatever. I have found out that people do not like having a mirror. They do not like looking in the mirror and seeing the truth and seeing the reality. The only way most people come across this is whether or not they’ve got that intuitive and they’ve got that intelligence to pick up and say, “Hey, I’m going to embrace this into my life.” That’s a very minimal amount of the population.
Most people that make the big change in their life it’s usually some health and profession. I remember that talk in Tasmania. A lot of the speakers were saying, “Just [00:16:00] happened to know that blah, blah medical health problem happened to me. Then I made this challenge and then I did this research. Then I found out that salt is really bad in your diet or sulfur is really bad in your diet. The shampoo I was using is really bad for me.”
It’s not until people get to that stage where something bad happens to them that they’ll make a change. That’s exactly what happened to me. It’s the same thing. I remember and no offense to my lovely great grandmother. She was a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker, then got breast cancer. Her son, he was also a heavy drinker and a smoker.
He said, “I’ve been doing some research.” This is in the 1980s. He said, “I’ve got this, there’s this new diet will help you treat your cancer as opposed to chemo.” Guess what it consisted of, plant material and animal material. The stupidity was a lifetime of smoking and drinking heavily and eating horrible food and then to get to a point where you’ve got cancer that may kill you and then you address it. Unfortunately that’s what happens to most of us.
For me it’s an experience of having to take my top off in front of my JP and he measuring my waist line and my man titties. That was just absolute embarrassment of like, “I’ve let myself get to this stage.” It’s not an appearance thing, I think that’s very important. Body image and appearances are important to a certain extent, but it’s the health, how the body, they machines working.
I think for me though, you can’t deny when you jump on the scales and you weigh 180 kilos and you’re supposed to be weighing 85 kilos. You can’t find that disturbing and personally embarrassing. That was my big wake-up call and also the look on my face when [00:18:00] my doctor took my blood pressure. It was like I was a 60 year old man. He was in shock.
Stuart: It’s probably the look on his face when he took your blood pressure.
Rohan: That’s what I’m saying, it was the look on his face. Then I looked at him and his eyes bulged out of his head and like, “Oh shit man! Seriously.” He took my blood pressure about 4 times before he actually said anything. I said, “Is there something wrong?” He goes, “Yeah. We need to get you medicated straight away.”
Stuart: Oh, cracking yeah.
Rohan: That was because of food choices, lifestyle choices and stress. All those things I had to do [inaudible 00:18:43]. Everything is connected, it’s like all the biota in the world including us. We’re all absolutely connected to everything. We are one living, breathing organism. It’s the same thing, we’ve lost our choices. It’s our diet. It’s in that alcohol. It’s the drugs we take. It’s the food we eat. It’s the inactivity that we have and that’s the stress of our daily lives. It’s all integrated and joined and connected.
That’s why I can get absolutely frustrated seeing people in that hole. A lot of us are in that hole and that’s why I spend time communicating my message.
Guy: Just for the record Rohan, how is your health now since you made the changes?
Rohan: It took many years. I had this legacy weight to get rid of. The unfortunate reality is if you progress from eating high fatty foods or high salt or sugar foods, you initially lose a little bit of weight. Unless you incorporate some good cardio exercise, a bit of resistance training into your life, you have this legacy weight. Especially if you are overweight like I was.
That took me years to deal with. Then I was thrusting [00:20:00] to the spot light, because I was touring heavily. When you’re away from home you don’t have all the luxuries of your own food system back and forth. You make the choices the best you can, but often those choices or even those choices aren’t that good.
The good news is after I was medicated I think for about 8 years on antidepressants and anti-anxiety tablets and then I think for hypertension for about a year after that. Right about 7 or 8 years have been pretty heavy dosage medication. I spent a couple of years working with my JP to reduce that dose. For hypertension it was a matter of introducing some cardio training to lose some weight, which would knock a couple of numbers off the hypertension. Addressing the amount of salt I was putting into my food.
I left the high sodium processed food and then went to cooking. When you start cooking and you love cooking you add salt and so I had to address that. There’s been all these slow progressions and then the same with anxiety and depression. I think sugar has a really important role in anxiety and depression. With a little bit of research that I’ve done and also those other things about stress and lifestyle and a lot of the processed foods that make your brain go up and down every time.
That progression has been really good. Now I’m no longer medicated by anything. I used to take 2 tablets every day medicated for [inaudible 00:21:32] except for when I get a headache I’ll take a Panadol. I don’t weight myself anymore, because my clothes fit me really well. I have been to a pair of size 36 jeans that I haven’t won 5 years. I have been maybe about a month ago and for the [inaudible 00:21:50]. Because I’ve lost that much weight. I’ve gone from size 42 waist to a size 36. I’m very happy with that.
I’ve got clothes that I’ve had in [00:22:00] cupboard for years that don’t fit me. There already easily can fit, but they’ve been in cupboard so long they’re completely out of fashion. I’m not setting any fashion standards here, but the beauty is I’ve kept on to some of those clothes as my measuring stick for how my progress is going. Just for this interview I just jumped 4 kilometers and did my morning punches and push-ups. That’s it. That’s all I do.
I do some cardio, 5 days a week I do section of cardio and a little bit of a distance training in my house. I do a bit of bush walking. Last night I was out in the [inaudible 00:22:44] for about an hour, walking around chinning rabbits, that is about an hour of exercise. My wife has just incorporated all these exercise. I’m not very good at going to gyms, I’ve tried them before. I got really annoyed with gym men got pulled out for the pretty ladies.
I was just having a talk to my partner that she wants me to start doing yoga. I’ll do yoga if it’s just one other person in the room. I don’t want to be in a room with other people. I’m an independent person, I like to do things on my own. The point being is everyone has a different value of yielding and addressing this problem. Some people like to join jogging clubs, some people love to do all those group camp things or do Zumba.
As long as there is a little bit of cardio in your life, cardio relative to what your body can handle. If you’re 60 years old you don’t want to be doing too much Zumba. You need to do a little bit of [inaudible 00:23:43] walking and that would be enough cardio.
Stuart: That’s right. Thinking about our grandparents too. My nan and [00:24:00] granddad certainly wouldn’t have attended a gym. I don’t even think they would have thought about the word exercise. They probably didn’t even contemplate getting out and doing something every day. They just got on with their lives.
Rohan: Yeah. I think that’s one thing I do in talks all the time, is I tell people to go home and look at their grandparents. You will that people have got normal bottoms. Some of them might be thin, some of them might be a bit stalky, but there’s a bag of all people with obesity.
The reason being is because people walk to the train station, they walk to the train, they walk to work. When I went to work there was a lot more less robots doing the work in the factories, so people were doing physical lifting things, using their arms and their legs. Now more so there are people, like my job, pretty much most of my adult life was sitting at a desk typing on a keyboard.
As soon as I got that out of my life, which was about 3 years ago, every year I stopped getting those massive fluids that you get when you work in offices. I think also there’s something you said about being under the man-made life thing for most of the day and not getting that silent in your brain.
I just got to the stage where anything that was unnatural I wanted to minimize that as much as I could in my life. That’s exactly what people have been doing for years and years. I didn’t do it intentionally, it was just the way life was. People were much more involved in working with how their body was designed to operate. If you think about the ancient tribes of humans, running really, really fast for long periods of times was not on the agenda. They just weren’t for that. They were designed to do very fast running for very [00:26:00] short durations of time. That’s what our bodies can survive with.
That’s why you see long distance runners or people that have those really physical sports and they’ve all got injuries. The reason for that is their bodies were never designed to handle that pressure. They bodies were designed to walk great distances as nomadic tribes, pick up food along the way and that’s what our bodies were designed to. I try to immolate that in my life.
Like last night, walking around with a heavy 22 magnum riffle and carrying about 6 dead rabbits with me is exercise. That’s the exercise our bodies were designed to do.
Guy: What does a day in a life look like for you these days? Because obviously your life has changed dramatically from back when you had the corporate job and everything and the un-wellness to where you are today. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that change and what it looks like now?
Rohan: I think this as well, my life is relatively regular. The only thing is I do grow a lot of vegetables to feed the family. Over the summer period I do spend a little bit more time in the vegetable garden. I’d probably say maybe an hour, 2 hours in the vegetable garden. People go to church every week and no one complains about that dedication of time.
1 to 2 hours a week in the veggie garden. My hunting efforts are usually around autumn time where there is the ducks and the clouds and again to the bigger game like the deer. I fill the freezer so we can get through winter. Then in spring time I get out on the [inaudible 00:27:34] all the spring rabbits, because they’re fresh, they’re young, they’re healthy, they’re tender. That’s the best time of the year to be hunting rabbits, so I start hunting again. I haven’t hunted all winter basically.
I just got a phone call from a friend, the spring mushrooms have started. I’ll be hiking up the mountain getting mushroom soon. Like I said before, I spend a bit of time in the veggie garden over summer period. Then [00:28:00] in autumn I spend a lot of time in the forest picking forest mushrooms and teaching people hiking through the forest teaching people a lot of the side forest mushrooms [inaudible 00:28:06].
On a normal day I’m taking my kids to school. I’m getting my car fixed. I’m doing radio interviews and magazine interviews and stuff which is a job. I’ve got a pretty regular life. I just no longer have to be at an office at Miller Park and leaving 5:00 and ask permission to have days off. I’m a free man. I just made a decision last night that I’m going on [inaudible 00:28:32] to drive off. I can do that, I can make that choice.
I want to focus on writing my next book. I want to focus on my own mental, physical and spiritual health. I’ve just been on the road for about a month. I was doing public speaking for the book. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to feel a little bit worn out. I can make that call and say, “You know what, I’m going to focus on getting my head right, get my [inaudible 00:28:57].”
A lot of people laugh at this, but the older I get the more I realize how important my spiritual health. That’s having a sense of purpose. I’m doing things with a sense of purpose, feeling a sense of accomplishment, feeling all those things. People don’t like talking about it, because [inaudible 00:29:16].
Unfortunately if you look at a lot of other cultures around the world, especially the older cultures there’s that beautiful sense of spirituality and well-being that is very much a masculine and manly thing. I think that’s the kind that gets lost in this world of putting sports ball and masculine things and [inaudible 00:29:41] and stuff like that. We tend to lose that thing of we need to look after our mental health.
Look at the statistics of how any men have depression in Australia. It’s phenomenal. I think an important part of that is how we view ourselves, how we look at ourselves and how we address our own [00:30:00] mental and spiritual health.
Guy: People are communicating via social media these days. I wonder how often people have a proper conversation.
Rohan: I just turned Instagram off last night, but I’ve actually got to a point where I’m sick of that world I made a big break from it might be a week, it might be a month. I need a break from that because you’re exactly [inaudible 00:30:23] things get taken out of context. For some reason in social media people have this ability to say super nasty things that they would never ever say to a stranger on the street.
I love that, but people tell me that I’m doing it all wrong and they’ll say I’m an asshole, I’m a murderer, saying all these ridiculous things. They would never actually come up to me in the street and say that. Quite often I’ve had people very confrontational. I’ve said, “Okay. Let’s meet and talk this over” and then people just feel secure.
They don’t want real confrontation. It’s a lot easier to do the confrontation by social media.
Stuart: It’s interesting too thinking about the social media, because it’s the very devices that we’re connected to that seem to be taking us away from just that critical component which is engagement and conversation and community as well. Because if you hope on a bus these days, it’s almost silence but the buzzing and worrying and texting. Everybody has got their heads down 45 degrees staring at these screens.
I remember when we came over to Australia 15 years ago, I hoped on a bus coming from London. Just remembered that the whole bus was just engaged in conversation and happiness and I thought, “Wow! This is so unusual. People are really, really enjoying their time together and they’re talking to strangers.” Nowadays if you’re out and about and you’re waiting for somebody it’s almost habitual now to get this out and just tap away on it irrespective of whether [00:32:00] you need to.
Rohan: I’ll say that a lot in places like airports as well. Everyone is just staring at tapping. I’m trying to make an effort to distance myself from it as much. It’s very hard because it’s what keeps me connected with people. As now pretty much my self-purpose is communicating this message and it’s [inaudible 00:32:25] thoughts that I have.
That social media is very important to getting that message over to people. The feedback is really good. I get loads and loads of messages from people saying, “I went to your talk during the week and it was fantastic” or “I read your blog post and I’ve integrated this change into my life and it’s been very important to me and I just want to say thank you and stuff.”
On some level social media has this great power to influence social change. It also attracts some absolute whack job idiots that are quite happy to tell you what they want to tell you. I think that can take its toll on what I was talking about before spiritual and [inaudible 00:33:12].
I could get 1,000 really nice comments. There’s 1 nasty comment that I will get about some sort of topical issue that’s happened and then I’ll focus on and that’s it.
Stuart: Yeah, it is. You’re absolutely right. I was just thinking as well Rohan. How are your family with this journey as well of yours? They’re happily adopting everything that you’re bringing on board.
Rohan: Well, thankfully I’ve got young kids. My plan was kids kind of started off on really the food, my kids did not. I had to do an integration, transition time of integrating real food into my kids’ diet. They just diet off on chicken [00:34:00] nuggets and frozen chips and [inaudible 00:34:01] on soup. It has been quite a journey for the kids, but they’re there, they were eating the food. I’ve had to persevere with some meals and some ingredients. Not everyone likes eggs for example. You just have to try and find what the kids like and focus on those.
My kids understand since now we’re food which is really great. They understand and they look forward to when the tomatoes are back in season. They have an absolute understanding of where the meat comes from. They’ve seen me kill animals, dress animals, gut animals, butcher animals and then cook them. Most kids just see the cooking part, or the buying of the chicken from the supermarket and not actually seeing how there was a living animal.
I think that’s really an important part of the process of showing the kids where the food comes from then they have a better understanding. Then it’s just every day normal life for them. The other day my youngest daughter walked past me while I was plucking a chicken that a friend of a friend gave to me, they live in the city. It was a rooster and they were having a rooster in the city.
Anyway, so they gave me this bird and I reluctantly took it, because I have enough meat in the freezer and plucking chickens in a pain in the butt. That’s why I prefer to shoot rabbits. You can skin and gut a rabbit in a couple of minutes. You got to dedicate half an hour or 40 minutes process to do a chicken properly.
She walked past and she said, “Oh great. We’re having chicken for dinner tonight dad.” That’s where it’s at, at the moment. Some people think that’s barbaric and backwards. You know what? Humans have been living that way for many, many years and it’s only ion recent history that we’ve disassociated ourselves with where our food comes from. Since now …
Guy: I think that’s fantastic.
Rohan: As real food.
Guy: That’s right. There’s like a [00:36:00] veil, isn’t there, between us consuming the food and actually where it comes from. There’s this gap.
Rohan: Yeah. I think on top of that it’s even more scary is that … I’ve seen this in the supermarket. I love visiting the supermarket by the way. You see kids and they’ll be begging mom for these 100% organic fruit only, no additives, no preservatives, fruit juice in a little cardboard [inaudible 00:36:30].
You’re taking a couple of boxes there because you’ve got no preservatives and it’s organic. The problem being is, you’ve got the packing which has got a huge environmental cost and you’ve got that transportation, because a lot of that tropical produce is made from imported farming produce.
The bigger problem is the kid doesn’t have an association with its [inaudible 00:36:53]. It’s plum juice or blackcurrant juice, but that’s what it looks like.
Stuart: Totally. I had to laugh the other day, because I’ve got 3 little girls. Their local school has an environmental initiative. They have 1 day where they have waste free day. Essentially what they do is they’re not allowed any packaging or wrapping or anything like that. All they do is they get the food out the cupboards at home and they take the packaging and the wrapping off. They throw it in the bin and then they take it to school.
Rohan: It’s not really addressing the [inaudible 00:37:33].
Stuart: It’s not a solution and it’s a very low level awareness.
Rohan: Here’s a good one for you. My partner keeps going to a Vasco da Gama school, only one of a couple in the world of those schools. They have a nude food policy and it’s a vegan school, they have to bring vegetarian lunches to school.
There is not one single obese kid there. There is not one kid with food allergies there.
Guy: Nuts, isn’t it?
Rohan: Exactly [00:38:00] and they can eat nuts. Whereas at my kids’ school at the state school, there is obese kids, there’s kids with food allergies so severe that it’s nut in Sesame Street. Because there’s 20 kids out of the entire primary school that have an allergy so severe that they will go into cardiac arrest if they have these nuts [inaudible 00:38:26].
What’s wrong though is the primary school in a way is sponsored by McCain as a company. There’s a factory in that town. When they’re testing new products, if a family from the school takes the product home, test them and then fills out a survey McCain donates $10 for the school.
What hope have those kids got? Quite often kids have brought to school McDonald’s [inaudible 00:39:01] fish and chips, blah, blah, blah. Regularly from the parents to buy the food. That’s a reflection of how serious the serious the situation is [inaudible 00:39:13]. Even not from an environmental point of view, just in a nutritional point of view, that’s a really big problem that we have.
Stuart: It’s radical. I prepare the girls’ lunches every day. Of course I’m always met with a barrage of disappointment as I boil up eggs and I’ve cooked some meat and they’ve got some cheese in there and stuff like that.
In the playgrounds, and it’s chalk and cheese to where we used to be. You mentioned allergies and obesity and stuff like that. In our school when I was younger, I’m in my 40’s now, there was perhaps a token fat kid. Nobody knew what allergies were. Maybe you might go a bit [00:40:00] funny if you got stung by a bee, but food allergies, forget it.
Now, we’re in the same situation where a couple of kids in [inaudible 00:40:09] schools are so allergic that the whole school is banned from taking in the nuts and seeds and the usual suspects. If it’s in a packet it’s great, bring it in.
Rohan: Don’t you think it’s really interesting that we’re having this discussion. We acknowledge the fact that there are kids with such severe allergies that didn’t exist when we were going to school in the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet, what’s being done about it? Nothing. The foods are still on the shelves at the supermarket. It’s still part of people’s lives.
That’s one thing that is absolutely frustrating, is that we know that this food is causing nutritional and health problems yet the food still exist there. I think that’s our biggest challenge over the next couple of decades, is trying to communicate whether it be … I don’t think government is really going to give a crap. As the consumers all of the change that we’re going to make is going to be consumer driven. How do we make consumers change? With about providing information in a format that’s not going to intimidate or annoy anybody to say to say, “Look. This is what’s in your food. This is the problems it’s causing. To address this you can eat your food and then you can fix those problems.”
I did a talk in Queensland a couple of months ago. I got up on stage and I read out the ingredients of processed foods that are bought from the local IGA. I was going to get totally lynched in this country town. I just stood up there and I read it out and there was a couple of hundred people there with dump founded faces like, “What is he talking about?”
I read out, there was numbers and there was words I’ve never heard of before. I threw them off the stage and I said, “That’s not food and that’s what’s making us sick.” I was talking about [00:42:00] sulfites. Anyway a lady went home and she went through her entire cupboard, because her kid has got food allergies, aspirin and blah, blah, blah. It’s her entire cupboard.
She pretty much threw all the food out because everything had the preservatives 220 and all those. She wrote me an email and said, “I feel so guilty. I feel like I’ve been such a bad parent, because I’ve been buying all this food and I didn’t even know. I never ever thought to look at the ingredients.” I think that’s amazing and that used to be me. I never thought to look at the ingredients. I don’t know why. I was out of my mind.
Now when my partner buys … She wants to make some diet vows or something. In the habit of please check the sulfites. You don’t want to have sulfites in your food. It’s a whole food, it’s a diet. It’s got to be totally fine. No, it’s got sulfites.
Stuart: Yeah. It’s still tricky when you hit the whole ingredients. I think that’s a huge part of the problem, is the education from at least the parents’ perspective. They are losing grasp on skills and cultural traditions that their parents and grandparents had.
Because I remember my nan and granddad had a veggie garden and everyone had a veggie garden. We used to go down, when I used to go and see them on Sundays and I would help them pick their runner beans and their potatoes and carrots and pilled the sprouts and stuff like that.
They lived in a very long thin garden with no fences left and right. When you looked down you just saw veggie gardens as far as the eye could see. My parents we grew potatoes and stuff like that. Nowadays crushing, who in their right mind, at least in the city even considers a veggie garden? Because we’re in this convenience mind now, “Well, I can get my studs, my dates and prunes from Coles.
They have been tampered for shelf life and convenience and all the other gumpf. It’s these cultures and traditions that [00:44:00] we’re very much losing grasp of nowadays. Even cooking and meal times, again, which is where we communicate with the family and distress and really nourish the family is gone. A lot of this now is just put the TV on and chow down and stare at your mobile phone.
Rohan: That’s why I got rid of my television years ago. Because every time I used to get home from work it’s the first thing I turn on. Even if I wasn’t watching it, it’s just noise in the background and the kids [inaudible 00:44:38] or whatever. It’s been quite life changing.
I annoy people by telling them I don’t have a television. Who needs a television, if you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got a computer, you’ve got Instagram that’s all you need.
Rohan: You can get all the world news off that and it’s done. Every time I’ve been on tour, like I said for the month [inaudible 00:45:01] alone watching television and sitting there and just laughing at what is on television. There’s some absolute rubbish on television. I think it’s not until it’s habitual to watch television and it’s not until you distance yourself away from it.
It’s not an arrogant thing, I’m a better person because I don’t watch television. It’s that there is a lot of rubbish on television that is making you buy crap you don’t need and eat food you shouldn’t be eating and consuming stuff you don’t need. That’s the whole purpose of television, it’s there to advertise.
Stuart: It is totally. Currently you could sit down and burn 2 or 3 hours a night. When you mentioned that you tend to your veggie garden, you might go for a walk. That’s valuable time that we could push in a different direction.
Rohan: Summer time is that beautiful time of the year where my family is outside until nightfall. It’s just kids are on the [00:46:00] trampoline or they’re playing some little game under the cypress tree. I’m in the veggie garden just hanging out. We tend to cook outside a lot in summer time. That’s really great family time, we’re all connected. We’re hanging out. We have a bit of cuddle with the kids and they go off. They get bored and they go play some game. Then they want to tell you about their game. It’s a much better life.
Stuart: Your kids will remember those times. They probably won’t remember watching episode 21 of the Simpsons.
Guy: Exactly, yeah.
Stuart: You got a new book, ‘A Year of Practiculture’. I just wonder whether you could share with our audience a little bit about the book. First talk, what is practiculture, because I’m not familiar with that word?
Rohan: It’s really just a very easy way to describe my approach to life. One point you’re talking about your grandparents having veggies in their backyard. They’re all very practical skills. Cooking is a practical skill. Food preservation is a practical skill. All those things are all part of my life. I just wrote a [inaudible 00:47:10] practical skill. My life is practical and pretty much most tasks that I do they would be kneading bread ore baking some, raising some [inaudible 00:47:23] some vegetables or grilling some zucchini. All very practical task.
My lifestyle is based in that practical task and as it was in the past for many people. If you spend time say, somewhere [inaudible 00:47:43] in the rural areas there everyone is doing practical tasks. What my life is all about at a place talking about that present culture of doing practical tasks that have a great outcome for you that has food that is good [inaudible 00:48:00] [00:48:00] nutritional integrity. That hasn’t been tampered with. You’ve grown it all. You now have freshly. It doesn’t have chemicals in it.
You’re doing practical tasks that give you a little bit of physical exercise. Enough physical exercise leads to a little bit of spiritual and mental health, because you’ve got endorphins [inaudible 00:48:13] and that’s what practiculture is.
Rohan: I completely made up a [inaudible 00:48:20].
Stuart: I like it.
Rohan: I started with a mapping garden that turned to a workshop once and said, “Everything you do you’re so practical. You have a very practical culture.” He said, “Practiculture. You can use that” and I did.
Guy: I tell you it looks absolutely beautiful book. I’ve only seen the electronic version which was sent through the other week for the podcast. It looks stunning and I can just envision it as I sit on my coffee table and flicking through that and getting a lot of wisdom from what you’ve learned for sure.
Rohan: The thing is [inaudible 00:48:55] there are almost I think about 100 [inaudible 00:48:59]. There is lots of words in there and that’s the important thing. I actually got trimmed down by the publisher. I wrote so many words, because it’s telling the story of what happens in my life over a period of a year. Like when you asked that question before, what’s a day in the life of Rohan Anderson? Because more importantly, what’s a year in the life?
Because it runs on a cycle of using spring, summer and autumn to prepare for winter. That’s what the book is about. There’s all these stories and tales and thoughts all the way through the book that you might get an interesting read through.
Guy: Brilliant. What percentage of your foods come from your own efforts Rohan? Is it everything you do?
Rohan: Yeah. It’s either directly or indirectly, I would say. You’d be looking around about somewhere between 70% or 80%. I don’t churn my own butter. I don’t milk cows, so all the dairy comes from somewhere else. Pretty much most of the vegetables come from the [00:50:00] backyard.
If they’re not coming from my backyard I do a lot of trade, so [inaudible 00:50:05] I can swap with someone who’s been successful with the eggplant. A lot of trade is happening and I also hunt wild deer and I can trade with my pig farming friend for pork products.
Indirectly it’s somebody else who has produced that food, a friend of mine but I’m trading with something that I’ve done the practical task or I have butchered the deer and then [inaudible 00:50:35] then swap it for some bacon.
You’d be surprised how much food comes in through the backyard over the warm period at summer. It’s abnormal how much food you can get in the backyard.
Rohan: Ranging from herbs and fruits and nuts and vegetables, we have a lot of stuff. If you’ve got a small backyard you may not get the great variety. That’s why say for example I’ll put it that [inaudible 00:51:05] fruit choice. I don’t have a great variety and all of my grape trees area all still immature. I think it’s ripe for this year.
I grow a lot of jalapenos. I’m really good at growing jalapenos in my [inaudible 00:51:21] tunnel and people love jalapenos. I can trade those jalapenos for cabbage. You know what I mean?
Rohan: Another thing that we’ve lost in that human culture is that the only reason we are so technologically advanced and we’ve built all these amazing infrastructure, human built environment is because we’re like ants. We work together as a team. That’s the same basic principle that I utilize with food acquisition. I can grow jalapenos. I can swap a bag of jalapenos for a kilo of prunes.
It’s a great working [00:52:00] together as community, that’s something that I’ve really fostered.
Guy: That’s fantastic. I instantly think of you almost teaching a retreat down there for city slackers that could come down and spend the weekend or a week and being taught all these things. I think so many people these days are just completely disconnected from how to do that.
Rohan: Yeah. I’m actually setting that up.
Guy: Oh wow!
Rohan: The nursery project which I attract that funding last year or the year before. This summer I’m starting to build a shed to run the classes. We’re going to miss the bud for this summer, but next summer we’ll have the kangaroo tents up and we’ll be having demonstration vegetable garden orchid. Then I’ll be adding classes and teach people the basics of my lifestyle. It’s not that matter of saying, “This is the right way, it’s the only way.” It’s more of a point of saying, “This is what I do. This is why I do it. If you want to integrate this into your lifestyle so be it.”
Guy: Brilliant. Stu are you going to say something?
Stuart: I just had a thought of you tending a chicken nugget bush out on your veranda, that kind of stuff. Just thinking Rohan, we’re in the city right now in Sydney and in an apartment. Obviously a lot of our friends and associates are living the apartment lifestyle as well. We don’t have access to garden, veggie hatch or green space that way. What can we do, do you think, right now just to make small changes?
Rohan: I get asked this question all the time and there are many answers. To begin with, if you were a person that was living in an apartment eating processed food. The first step would be moving away from [00:54:00] those aisles in the supermarket and starting to be attracted to the aisles where there is actual vegetables and fruit and meat. Then aside from that area and maybe buy some spices and some fresh herbs as opposed to processed herbs in a tube.
That’s the first step and that will give you a nutritional wing in a way. That will be the first step in improving your nutrition. You’ll really be controlling the amount of salt and sugar in your diet. You’ll be reducing the amount of preservatives in your diet and that’s a great thing.
By doing that you’re not really addressing the chemicals that are applied to the fresh produce. Where I live in summer time helicopters flapping in the middle of [inaudible 00:54:41] helicopters boom spray with these huge booms on either side of the helicopter. Come and spray all the food that ends up being sold to humans.
It’s to control the insects or the caterpillars or the other bugs. The problem being is a lot of this stuff is systemic. By saying systemic, it gets into the plant system. It’s gets into the fruiting body which ends up in the supermarket and then you eat it. The next step for the person living in the apartment in Sydney is to try and search as much as possible and consume further these chemical food.
That’s how food has been produced for thousands of years. Our bodies are not designed at all to deal with active constituents like [inaudible 00:55:23] and all those preservatives. The next step would be to look at chemical sprayed food. Even we want to take a next step further than that, would be I’m going to go for whole foods that are chemical free and they’re local.
This is an amazing phenomenon for me to actually have to point out those 3 things in this era is hilarious. Because in years past humans were always buying local chemical free and whole fruits.
Stuart: That’s right, yeah.
Rohan: The fact that I’m having an interview trying [00:56:00] to communicate that is an indictment on our culture.
Stuart: It’s absurd, isn’t it?
Rohan: It is absolutely absurd for me to be saying that. It should just be part of our everyday life. Taking it even a step further than that is things like say community support agriculture. There’s a great thing in Brisbane called Food Connect Brisbane. Basically what it is, it’s a website where 100 different farmers are all connected.
You go on the website as a consumer and you pick all the food you want to buy. That creates a manifest and the manifest is given to all the farmers. They pick the food. They kill the pig and make the bacon by the way and they’re delivered to that distribution center and then it gets sent out to you.
You’re supporting, you know who the farmers are. It’s all listed on the website. You know who the farmers are, you know where the food is coming from. You’re eating relatively locally and you’re eating in season. At times you can even click the dropdown menu and say, “I want mine to be chemical free or organic.” They are the other steps. You can use that technology if you like.
There are some other different systems and schemes that are similar to say like Veg Box systems. I offer one over the summer period where we sell a box of organic vegetables for one farmer instead of [inaudible 00:57:14] 30 years to families down in Melbourne. It’s simply people jumping on the website, they order the box.
It’s about 12 to 15 kilos of organic mixed vegetables. I’ll say that again. 15 kilos at peak season of organic vegetables for $55. I just want to say to people, do not tell me that eating organic is expensive. Find a better alternative than buying the expensive organic crap at the supermarket and you’ll still be eating organic.
To answer the question you used. It’s up to everybody to find their own answers if you want it bad enough. Say you’re obese. I was obese. If I wanted to not be obese bad enough that meant I had to go jogging. If you want it bad enough you’ll [00:58:00] investigate the answers that are right for you.
That’s the problem being is, we may have times when I present talk and people put their hand up and say, “How do I do this? Give me the answers.” The problem being is we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves. Everyone does the thinking for us. You get to that point where you’re like, “Oh God!” The answers are there right in front of you. If you want the answers you can find them. It’s almost like everyone needs a Yoda to tell them, “Ask many questions you do.”
That’s the amazing thing is that we’re always saying, “Well, how do I fix this?” That’s like me going to Weight Watchers and saying, “Look. I’m fat. Give me the answers. Tell me what I need to do.” I couldn’t think for myself. Now it’s gotten to that point where I’ve had that matrix moment and it’s like, I can’t stop thinking for myself.
Stuart: We use, strangely enough, exactly the same analogy of taking that pill and when you take that pill you realize that you are in a world surrounded by just absurdities wherever you look. People chewing on all these crazy plastic food and getting sick and taking pills and getting health spiraling out of control.
Rohan: Energy drinks. Do you see people drinking energy drinks? I want to go up and slap them in the face. I want to get the can and just crunch it on their head and say, “Wake up! What are you putting in your body? Do you even know what this stuff is?” It’s amazing.
Stuart: It’s the funny thing. Again, I was only thinking about the red bull phenomenon this morning as I was walking the kids to school. I saw this one young lad and he had a can of red bull. In England when we were younger, the fashion was you’d go out into the clubs and you would drink red bull and vodka. The downside was that you couldn’t get to sleep when you got back from the clubs.
When you actually pull those drinks apart and realize what you’re actually doing to yourself, it is red alert [01:00:00] for your body when you’re down in this nonsense.
One other thing I wanted to raise as well, because you were talking about spraying of fruits and vegetables and stuff like that. About 20 years ago me and my wife as we were travelling around the world we spent 6 months fruit picking in New Zealand on the south island. We picked cherries and apricots and had a great time eating all these fruit.
We did it for literally 5 or 6 months. At the end of the time when we were going to head off up north, there was a big meeting and a farewell barbecue. One of the guys came out and said, “I just want to make sure that all of you guys are aware that we spray all of our fruits and vegetables to keep the pests off. It does interfere with the female contraceptive pill. Just be mindful if any of you guys are in relationships. Your pill might not work if you’re eating our fruit.”
Rohan: Those are alarm bells. It’s like, we have this knowledge yet the [inaudible 01:01:01]. I often scratch my head and just say, “WTF.” It’s not just ignorance. We’ve got enough information. There’s enough in regards to nutrition. There’s enough books on TV shows about nutrition. We have the knowledge. It’s not that we’re ignorant about it, it’s we’re stupid. We can’t make the right decisions.
I don’t know how to change that other than having some personal medical drama and then saying, “Oh I’m on the side of the vegetables they’re not sprayed with chemicals.” I just don’t [inaudible 01:01:46].
Guy: Yeah, it’s a tough one.
Stuart: I think food is the right place to start, because when you’re fueling yourself and nourishing yourself properly you feel better, you sleep better and they’re not going to affect you because you start to make more informed [01:02:00] decisions. When you’re zombified it doesn’t work so well.
Guy: I’m just aware of the time guys. Rohan, what we do, we have a couple of wrap up questions we ask every guest on the podcast. The first one is, have you read any books that have had a great impact on your life and what were they?
Rohan: I like reading Louis L’Amour who is a western author. The reason why I love that is because you see the world and you can probably by the end of the podcast you’d be thinking, “This Rohan Anderson is an absolute nut job.”
You can see how absolutely stuffed the world is and it just gets really depressing. I read these old western novels. There’s hundreds and hundreds that’s written with the classic well known American author. The reason being is that at the end of the book the good guy always wins.
That’s what gets me to sleep at night knowing that there’s always lots of gun fights and punching and goodies and baddies stuff and that’s fine. I do love that. On a serious note about nutrition and food and all the things that I do now, there is a book that I always talk about called The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. It was written in 1948. This guy was an Italian immigrant in America that got frustrated with eating pretty blunt American food. It start off as more of culinary perspective of as a blindness in, “What is this cheese? This American cheese is disgusting.”
Being an Italian immigrant he reverted back to his roots in Tuscany and started growing his own food and hunting. The way the books is written, it’s not the best written book, but I found it super-inspirational many years ago when I was taking punch to … It was one of the books that got me even more fueled up about the need to be on that self-reliance train of growing my own food and hunting.
Guy: Could you repeat the name of the author and the book?
Rohan: The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. [01:04:00]
Rohan: The things is as well, beside this absolutely beautiful book it’s only $9.95 and it holds the biggest inspiration for me to get [inaudible 01:04:10]. I would love to buy a million dollars’ worth of it and just walk down the streets and just hand it to people, give them for free, like one of those evangelistic religious people. It’s a really inspirational book. The basic principle is about growing your own food and cooking. Not a lot of recipes in there, but the other thing that was important for me when I was very [inaudible 01:04:35] working 6 days a week, earning loads of money but very, very miserable worlds.
This notion that this guy had about the idea that you get to this great sense of achievement of planting carrots and the carrots grow up and then you cooked a meal with the carrots and it’s a great sense of achievement. I think even identifying that in 1948 it is groundbreaking, because in 2015 most of our lives are unfulfilling.
We go to work, we sit at an office, we get a salary. Then we take that salary, we go to a supermarket, we purchase stuff. We go buy a new car, we go buy a house. It’s unfulfilling. Our bills alone happened a couple of years back. It was the most rewarding experience in my adult life. I chopped down the trees, I skimmed the trees. I built the log cabin and then I smoked food in it with a smoke house.
That experience was basically a social experience for me. It was trying to complete a task. You start to fruition and then tell the story about it and see what people thought about that. It was quite an interesting experience. I think that’s something I was lacking. That book absolutely life change informed.
Guy: Brilliant. I’ll get a copy of that and we’ll definitely link that in the show notes. Last question Rohan. What’s [01:06:00] the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Rohan: I really don’t know. Best piece of advice? I think it was probably in regards to cooking. When I first moved out of home, mom taught me this basic recipe then I called it hers. She used a lot red wine. I was like, “You’re using red wine in cooking?” As such a simple thing coming from a young version of me that had never cooked in my life. The notion of cooking with alcohol to enhance the flavor and all that stuff, basically opened the door for me. If that’s possible, what else is possible?
I think for me was basically the development of my sense of independence and just a sense of trying different things. I write about that all the time. I share that I had victories when I try something that works and also I share in the fails. Being given that knowledge of using, this is how [inaudible 01:07:07] you have onions, you have the mints, but then you out wine in, then you put the passata in and then you put your herbs and then you let it simmer.
Just the amazing input of information which is quite trivial, which you put red wine into [inaudible 01:07:20] at the time, I just remembered how groundbreaking that information was. Which then made me thing, “You know what, what else is possible?” Each of the [inaudible 01:07:29].
Guy: Bloody awesome. For anyone listening to this, would like to know more about you and get the book as well. What would be the best place to go Rohan?
Rohan: You can go to any good bookstore in Australia or New Zealand at the moment. US releases are out for next year, but you can also go into a whole lot of love come and buy directly to me. If you do I’ll give you the [inaudible 01:07:51].
Guy: Fantastic mate. Mate, that was absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your [01:08:00] journey. That was just simply awesome. It’s greatly appreciated. Thanks Rohan.
Rohan: All right thanks guys.
Stuart: That’s awesome. Thanks again Rohan.